Ruth Ryans Hicks-Marshall bade farewell to this earth and transcended to glory on Saturday, December 19, 2020. She peacefully entered the eternal resting place of the heavenly father at the age of 93.
Ruth May Ryans was the third oldest child out of six born to Dewey and Phoebe Ryans on
February 1, 1927 in Augusta, Georgia. She graduated from A.R. Johnson High School; the first African American High School in Augusta in 1945.
When considering what she wanted to pursue in life, Ruth recalled fond memories of family vacations to California, New York, South Carolina, among other places. However, it was New York City that left an indelible impression on her mind. With permission from her parents, 18- year-old Ruth moved in with her namesake, Aunt Ruth, to pursue a career in the fashion industry in New York City.
Ruth was determined to fulfill her dreams but when the opportunity to attend the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology was denied, she pressed forward and attended the City College of New York while working full-time as a waitress in Harlem. This model of perseverance would later be emulated by her children.
Within a year, she met army private Alphonso Smith at the infamous Savoy Ballroom where she enthusiastically learned to do the popular Lindy Hop and Swing dances of the day. They married in 1947 and lived in New York City with a brief return to Augusta, GA. In 1949, Ruth gave birth to her eldest son, Alphonso Dewey Smith Jr., later followed by Alton Derrick Smith and Valencia Ann Smith. By 1960, Ruth remarried a second husband, Oscar John Hicks after which their daughter Brenda Joyce Hicks was born in 1961. Both of her former husbands have made their transition to glory.
Ironically, in 1972 after her second divorce, Ruth spotted a former high school classmate while riding a New York subway train. As fate would have it, she recognized it was her high school sweetheart, William Marshall. This union prevailed until his unfortunate passing in 1982.
Ruth was a spirit and devoted mother. She personified class, style, glamour, and ambition. She worked tirelessly as a seamstress in Manhattan’s Garment District to provide for her family. If this was not challenging enough, due to her love of fashion, she developed entrepreneurial skills by designing clothes and staging fashion shows which affectionately earned her the title “Ms. Fashionista” by friends and family.
In 1973, Ruth relocated her family to the suburbs of Long Island, New York. There , she renewed her religious faith and joined the Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Amityville, LI. Active within the church, she served as missionary, choir member, usher and played the piano for special church occasions. She also became engaged in local civic and equal justice advocacy as a member of the NAACP fighting against community redlining and racial discrimination.
Moreover, in 1989, Ruth also competed in the Suffolk County Senior Citizen Pageant Competition which showcased her class, style, and the high fashion for which she was known that earned her second place.
Ruth took great pride and pleasure in being a lifelong member and former matron of the Eastern Stars for over 50 years. She helped establish the first Queen Esther Chapter of the Easter Stars in Amityville, LI which continues to this very day. She also received several outstanding awards and recognition.
Ruth loved family and leaves behind to mourn two sons and two daughters- in- law; one daughter and a son- in- law. She also leaves to mourn her youngest beloved sister, AnRetia residing in Augusta, Georgia.
As a grandmother and great-grandmother Ruth leaves to mourn 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
She also leaves to mourn a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, Eastern Star sisters, caregivers, and her extraordinary home health caretaker, Ms. Ajaye for whom the family is eternally grateful
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